Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Don't fence me in

Leadenhall building hoarding 2The hoarding around the base of the Leadenhall building used to be a drab, grey, wooden affair. Not any more!

Mahatma Ghandi said "Be the change you want to be in the world," and it appears that one thing this has inspired (a slightly smaller change than gaining independence for India) is the replacement of the Leadenhall Building's hoarding with something a little more glitzy.

Leadenhall building hoarding 3It's an aluminium composite panel (the best in quality and service (can an inanimate object provide a service?)) in silver and yellow, and is the perfect surface on which to emblazon details of the skyscraper construction project. They have even broken with the horizontal lines at one point to include a metalworkers' impression of the finished tower.

Now - I know what you're thinking: Who said they could put up this flashy new fencing, and I come equipped with an answer: the Corporation of London (aka City of London Council). As evidenced here, and also on the boards surrounding two smaller building sites in the city. Th

Hoarding permission signBut there is one anomaly; the green fencing surrounding the Bishopsgate Tower (now officially called The Pinnacle, it seems) building site stands there under the auspices of Transport for London. Not only that, but as well as being allowed hoarding or scaffolding, a gantry is also permitted. The only reason I can think of TfL getting involved is that the tower will be on a main thoroughfare... but then again, so is the Broadgate Tower. Hmm - I'm confused!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Spot the difference, Richard Rogers

It turns out Richard Rogers may have been too quick to criticise Bovis' slow progress on demolition of the building obstructing he construction of the Leadenhall Building.
Leadenall September 2007
September 2007
Leadenhall building
January 2008

Changes to note (which may need a click and a zoom in to see):
  1. The platform has risen 2-3 stories. Quite slow progress for 4-5 months' work, but they've also put up a lot of canvas and scaffolding up there.
  2. The hoarding has been replaced by some shiny new stuff
  3. The building has evidently been filled with helium or hot air as, in January 2008, it has had to be tethered to the ground
  4. The crane has rotated. Proof of intelligent life, or just the wind? Who can tell.
For more up to the minute information read the September (with an illustrative diagram) and December newsletters. Interesting elements of the December news are the imminent (possibly old news by now) construction of a bridge to give better site access, and if you want to see the pile driving for the foundations in action, you will have to pop by at night.

Dialogue concerning construction of a cheese wedge

Leadenhall buildingRichard Rogers: Hello - can I speak to Charles please?

Office assistant: (may be male or female - let's not make an ass out of you and me here) I'll just get...

(Charles William Bovis Jr. gesticulates wildly for the office assistant not to reveal he's there)

Office assistant: (Not making any effort to conceal their voice from the man on the phone) But I've already started to tell him I'll get you.

(Bovis comes over and, looking daggers over at his assistant, takes the receiver from her)

Bovis: Richard... Hi! Good to hear from you.

Rogers: Hi, Charles. Listen, I'm glad I caught you because I...

Bovis: How's it hangin' Richie?

Rogers: Fine, but I don't have time to chat... I...

Bovis: How is me old mugger, eh?

Rogers: I'm very well, I told you... but about this...

Bovis: And Mary... and the kids? Are they well?

Rogers: Yes! Now, listen here Charles. If I didn't know any better I'd say...

Bovis: How old are they n....

Rogers: ...I'd say you were trying to avoid me.

Bovis: (Aghast) Well there's no need to interrupt. Why would I be trying to avoid you.

Rogers: Well, it's the construction of the Leadenhall Building,

Bovis: The what, now?

Rogers: The Leadenhall Building.

Bovis: Huh?

Rogers: (Pained) The Cheesegrater

Bovis: Oh - well why didn't you say so. Yeah, the horny dildo-wedge. What of it?

Rogers: Well, I couldn't help noticing that that... that... that ugly carbuncle of a building that used to occupy the space where it's supposed to go... well... it didn't "used" to occupy the land; it still very much does occupy the land.

Bovis: Ah yes. Right you are, my friend, right you are. Still there it is. As sure as eggs came before the chicken, there it is.

Rogers: Well, I wouldn't bring it up really... only I notice that you've had that bit hovering up there since at least May.

Bovis: Absolutely - can't rush these things you know.

Rogers: But, I was strolling round the Heron Tower the other day. They only started knocking it down... well, it seems like just the other day, and already it's cleared.

Bovis: Ah yes, but they didn't have any problems with the... with the - don't tell the papers, mind - with the old curse

Rogers: What - asbestos?

Bovis: No! The old, err, Indian burial ground.

Rogers: There's an Indian burial ground?

Bovis: Yep.

Rogers: Are there Indian burial grounds in the UK?

Bovis: This one 'ere is.

Rogers: Well, i rather wish someone had told me... before I started work on this project.

Bovis: Ah - that'll be the curse already taking effect. A pre-emptive strike if you will

Rogers: I'm sorry?

Bovis: Started to give you bad luck before you started work here.

Rogers: (After thinking for a second) But if it wasn't for the bad luck of not knowing about the burial ground I wouldn't have started working here, and wouldn't have disturbed the ground, and there'd be need for the curse to take effect in the first place. It's like the chicken/egg thing.

Bovis: Huh?

Rogers. Don't you see?! It's a rather counter-productive curse that aids and abets the very thing it's set up to prevent.

Bovis: Ah - but it's a very self-loathing Indian burial ground. Very low self-esteem. Was taken into care and then sold into foundations by its foster parents. Tragic tale.

Rogers: Oh, I'm sorry to hear it.

Bovis: You're sorry! think how I feel having to make all this up!

Rogers: Quite, quite right. I really am very sorry to bother you.

Bovis: That's OK Mr. R. You mind how you go now.

Rogers: I will do indeed. Goodbye.

Bovis: Bye Mr. R. My love to Mary.

Snowboard - Eat fresh!

This morning I passed a man by Liverpool Street station holding a sign with a big arrow on it saying:

SALE! Ski equipment, outdoor clothing...
What's remarkable about that?

Only that attached to the same post was a sign saying:
SUBWAY - Eat fresh!
What does this mean? Subway have branched out into supplying ski equipment. That they go even further and have started selling fresh ski equipment as food. "Any sauce on that snowboard, sir?"

Or does it mean the guy holding the sign is pulling a fast one, getting paid twice for holding one stick? Moonlighting on both suppliers at once.

Or has a new alliance been formed between Ellis Brigham and Subway, recognising that nine out of ten skiiers fall in the "love it" to "don't mind it" bracket of the attitudes to subway survey?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Where are YOU going?

Willis facadeHow many price comparison websites do we need? Confused moneysupermarket comparethemarket pricerunner gocompare carsurance uswitch... The list goes on

I fully intend to set up a website which compares the comparison abilities of all the other comparison sites. A meta-comparer, if you will. I might set up some rival sites too and then set up a meta-meta-comparer. Pretty soon it will be impossible for anyone to say "ah - what the hell - this one seems ok," without deliberating for at least a lifetime.

So Willis, now with their shiny new headquarters (cleaned up nice, though still not quite finished), might find it difficult in future to find applicants of a high enough caliber to fill their twenty-first century desks.

"Where are you going," they ask brazenly as you walk along their newly laid cobbled sidestreet, even though they themselves are, inadvertently, helping to breed the tip-toeing, risk averse, business process obsessed dilly-dalliers of the future. And how?

Footpath closed at Willis buildingSee this sign:

It's in the same league as urban mythical "may contain nuts" labels on packets of peanuts, being as it is a quite unnecessary notice given the unsurmountable nature of the building detritus behind it:
Blocked pathway at Willis building
Who on earth couldn't work out for themselves that that particular bit of footpath was, at this moment in time, not meant for walking on?

On the other hand... here's a thought - maybe it's a test. Maybe you're supposed to notice the incongruous nature of the sign and take it as an invitation to parkour your way around their building (they provide plenty of other props (benches) even though the road gets little to no sun). I shall apply for a job there, strut into the interview and simply say "Yeah - the sign. I know your game," and walk out as the MD.

Things move fast

You know those signs which are rigged up to a speed detector and light up, telling you, personally, to slow down if you're going too fast; one of them just flashed at me... on my bike. Cool as!

I'm not the only things to come and go in the blink of an eye though. Take a look at this:

heron tower
And now this:
St Botolph without Bishopsgate church view
Aside from one photo being zoomed in far closer, you will notice that the second is far less cluttered with sheet clad building owing to the clearing of the site to build the Heron Tower. And these photos were taken, what, 2 and a half months apart.

St Botolph without Bishopsgate churchThe upshot of this is there are now - for a limited period - pleasant vistas across to St Botolph's without Bishopsgate Church. This view has been obscured for probably the last 30 years at least by a bland concrete building and, if all goes according to plan, will be obscured once more within the next year. So get in fast!

It's a very pretty church and i'm glad it's now revealed to the world. Does this mean I wish Heron Tower wasn't being built?

It's a tricky one. If the Heron Tower wasn't going to be built then I suppose the plot of land would be a great location for a small park. I think it'd get plenty of sun and, as illustrated here, the views would be pretty.

But that's never gonna happen. That land is destined to play host to an office block of some description. A view obscuring office block. But the question remains; what sort of building should it be? Preserving the view can't be an argument against or in favour of any building higher than 1 storey. Realistically, any new building in the city is going to be at leats 5 storeys high (even the old ones tend to have at least 4 floors).

So it does make me sad to know that the view of St Botolph's from the south East will be short-lived one, at least I know the building that gets in the way has an architectural ambition that might just soften the blow a little.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Blue meanies

olympic fenceThis is an old photo (taken in August I think) of the fence going around the new Olympic park redevelopment area. It's a much better photo than those I took this morning (owing to me only having my phone on me this morning), hence its inclusion.

I'm not going to attempt to follow the development of the Olympic Park too closely as another blog does a far more thorough job of it. But I did come across some interesting stuff today on my way to the local nature reserve where I saw, among other things, two foxes sunning themselves in the... err... sun.

Firstly, to recap, also in August I saw that the only thing breaching the impenetrable fortress Olympic 2012 was a tree tree in olympic fence, which happened to lie exactly along the path of the fence, and was broad and
low enough to leave the developers with no choice but to cut around it.

windows in olympic fenceNow, however, there is a new spirit of openness as they have installed windows. Not much to see as yet - just a load of rubble - so it's perhaps understandable that the first glimpse the public has been permitted to have of the site coincides with the plastering of these black and white posters over a section of the fence.
posters on olympic fence
Now that's what I call a community art project!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Doom and gloom

Had Chris Morris not been given the go ahead to film the The Day Today episode where he announces "It's War!" (YouTube) ("The stretched twig of peace is at.. melting point." Ha!) he would have filmed a similar episode where he proclaimed, "It's Recession!". That much we know.

For recession is one of the few times when the press play a greater than half-share in making the news.

When I was at uni, and flirting with a career in international journalism I went to a graduate recruitment presentation by Reuters. One of the people leading the talk opted to illustrate with an example what the job was all about. He related how one day George Bush had off the cuff made a minor, equivocal comment about the US economy whilst preoccupied with other matters on a state visit to Italy. The Reuters people in Italy picked up on this and reported it as a big story. This story rocketed around the world unaltered - i.e. just the raw facts with no analysis as to whether there might be any substance beyond the childish ruminations of a befuddled president - and share prices began to plummet. About 36 hours later Alan Greenspan was forced to deliver a statement to the effect that the US economy wasn't in crisis and that the world wasn't ready to end just yet.

After relating this story the Reuters rep turned to the audience beaming. "As you can see," he said, "what we do here at Reuters really does make an impact."

What! You nearly cause a financial meltdown because of sloppy, knee-jerk reporting? And you're proud of that! That is the single example you've chosen to represent how crucial your work is. I dread to think what other calamities they've nearly foisted on the world if that was the one to be most proud of. I was always taught (always - every morning, before breakfast) that Chernobyl was caused by Russian scientists carrying out tests without proper safeguards; that the Exxon Valdez ran aground on rocks; that the famine in Ethiopia was caused by a number of dry years and exacerbated by civil strife... but I wouldn't discount the hand of global news corp Reuters behind it all.

So anyway, a very long-winded way of saying that surely I can't be the only one to wonder if booms and busts would happen at all without the media. (Yes there would be up and down fluctuations, but if so much is dependent on consumer and market confidence, would they ever reach mammoth proportions?). And that Land Securities, for one, don't seem too shaken, so a few London buildings should still get built.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Keyword of the week: Does London have a nickname?

Well - does it? Britain's nickname is 'Old Blighty', so we're OK there, but what about the capital?

This forum seem to agree that 'The Smoke' is one... but surely that can apply to any number of cities (I'm sure I've heard it in numerous American films), so that doesn't work.

This site seems to think 'The City' and 'The square mile' count, but, although they stick to the rules of nicknames (one is a shortening, the other a physical feature), I still think they are a poor showing.

But hey - look at this (taken from here):

"The Big Smoke" (or, "the Great Smoke") is London, England -- a city known for its fog. "The Big Smoke" dates earlier than "the Big Apple," but London's nickname is used informally and much less often.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
the (big, great) smoke, a colloquial name for London. Also, any large city or town (chiefly Austral.).
The trouble is, there are so many Australians in London these days that use of Big Smoke may well be on the increase, but not in the right sense to make it a proper nickname. Our (admittedly already obscure and anachronistic) sense of national capital jocularity is being diluted by outsiders. Damn cheek. Just coz they don't have any city nicknames of their own. (Quite odd really, given the Australian propensity for nicknaming things. If I'm wrong, and there are nicknames for Australian cities, please correct me).

Next they'll be importing a non-standard use of the term cockney -chuck another cockney on the barbie, or summat - and ruining that too. We should search Australians for vocabulary when they arrive in the same way they search us for animals and plants.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Who makes the iDents?

I make the iDents!

I've posted once before about the Channel 4 ident with the helicopter flying around new buildings going up in the Dubai desert.

Well, outside Channel 4 HQ, near where I work, they have actually built one of those fours which materialise as you pass by, and then vanish again as the pieces fall out of alignment. It's got segments of athletic torsos printed on it, though I'm not sure what the significance of this is.

Anyway, here is my home made, phone made iDent:

(More frequent, shorter posts!)

By the way, John Wesley Harding by Bob Dylan - great album!



Wednesday, January 16, 2008

All work and no play

More frequent, shorter posts. More frequent, shorter posts. More frequent, shorter posts. More frequent, shorter posts. More frequent, shorter posts. More frequent, shorter posts.

If I repeat it enough it may just become a reality.

I've not been busy exactly, but writing the blog hasn't seemed like an attractive proposition somehow. It hasn't put in an appearance near near or at the top of the leader-board of my diverse lifestyle choice options.

Until, that is, I saw that they have now removed the scaffolding from Cornhill Exchange at Bank and replaced it with pinkness.

Worth noting, I thought.

If I don't leave a post about the Channel 4 offices in the next few days please leave me lots of abusive comments.

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